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US distributors ramp up bidding war for Serie A rights

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Turner Sports and ESPN lead the pack for the right to show calcio in the US.

Soon, you too could be watching Serie A on a sweet setup like this one.
Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

The deal that allowed BeIn Sports to broadcast Serie A matches in the US expired at the end of last season, leading to a bidding war for who gets to show calcio. As we’ve discussed before, IMG snared the international broadcast rights for €1.1 billion over the next three years, but nobody’s stepped up to show the league in the US until now. Due to a number of factors (but largely fueled by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, blech), the market is heating up as Turner Sports and ESPN jostle for the prize.

Both Turner and ESPN have live-streaming services that would presumably allow viewers to watch any of the matches on a given day as well as showing a game or two per week on the telly. I cannot emphasize enough to you how much this would help your humble correspondent follow Fiorentina; the BeIn streaming service was, honestly, kind of patchy, so having someone with the resources behind Turner or ESPN hold the rights would make it a lot easier to watch the matches. It could also lead to more Viola matches on real, live TV, which means getting to watch in a pub and explain to people why Fiorentina is better.

I suppose this isn’t particularly interesting news for all of you outside the US, but for the many of you who live here, it’s a big deal and will be worth following. It seems likely that a deal will be settled shortly following the conclusion of the World Cup, and it’d better: Serie A starts back up on 19 August 2018. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s just a month and a week.